Waterhouse Peak

You guys. This is so hard to write because there is fresh snow in Tahoe RIGHT NOW and I am in Davis. Why aren’t we in the mountains?!?! Momma says it’s because we have to have a real life sometimes, but I think that is a bullshit answer. The good news is there is still more snow that is supposed to fall up there tonight and momma says we can go in the morning if the chain controls are lifted, so fingers crossed!

We took a trip up to a new (to us) area this week near Luther Pass. There is a big meadow that is literally past the “Big Meadow” hike trailhead off the Tahoe Rim Trail (which, if you have been there you know that meadow is NOT big at all when you compare it to Meiss Meadow on the other side of the ridge)! But, I digress. Momma had seen this particular meadow, called Luther Meadow as we went to do hikes on the 88 corridor. Since we were in the area just the other day on our trip to Carson Pass with daddy, she saw some people out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the meadow. So she used her thumbs to get on the computer and discovered there is a winter ski-snowshoe route that is reportedly popular among the locals. I say reportedly because we didn’t see anyone else out on the way up to Waterhouse peak the day we were there, although there was a little traffic on the XC ski loop around the meadow. And by traffic I mean we could tell with our trail skills that someone else had been out there that day.

It was a beautiful day, it was sunny and it was AT LEAST 30 degrees warmer than it had been on Sunday, which is to say it was just above freezing. But, in the sun in Tahoe that makes it feel like 50 degrees or warmer, I swear! We had no feet that balled up with ice at all – the entire day – which goes to show how much the warmth of the sun can affect the temperature.

Momma knowingly parked at the far end of the meadow, which we had to go across to get to the proper “start” of the trail. We had a great time in the meadow because it was snowy and lined with trees, which is where the squirrels are always running around. Luckily it had been cold enough that the meadow wetlands were mostly frozen over. There were a few mushy areas, but nothing that we were sinking in and getting really wet in.

Eventually we got to where the trail should start, but when you have never been to an area and go for the first time in the snow, well, that kind of means you are just going to be a little off trail. Momma knew we needed to go up to get to where we wanted to go, and so up we went.

Lolo had a blast running around because the warm weather meant the squirrels were running around from tree to tree and he loves to try to catch them. He would come check in when momma called him but was otherwise occupied with running up and down in the deep powder and just grinning like it was the best day of his life.

I tend to stick a little bit closer to momma, and we made our way up the super steep terrain, even after the tracks we had been following disappeared. We sometimes would cut left or right based on what momma thought, but I didn’t think it seemed like she knew what she was doing because she had to stop like 100 times to “catch her breath.” She was wearing her snowshoes and there were times when we would suddenly be on rocks with only a thin layer of snow, and she’d be practically crawling up some of this terrain!

Suddenly we came onto a trail where you could clearly see that people had gone up. Momma was so happy and looked at her map and said we were almost there. Well, we would have been if she hadn’t had to stop 50 more times before we got to the top of Waterhouse peak. It is at almost 9500 feet, and so it was windy and a bit colder up here, so we took some pictures and then started to head back.

On the way down we went blasting through the deep powder and took the trail that we had “found” versus following our own tracks. I didn’t want to because I like following my own track, but momma said we should try something new. Which was fine until we got to where the trail was thin and it was a pain in the butt for momma with crampons and metal spikes on top of the rocks with only a thin layer of snow. But that was her problem, not ours! And, if we had taken MY way down, that wouldn’t have happened.

We made it down to the meadow and I went to go back on the same side we had come in on, but momma insisted we try the backside of the meadow up against the mountain, so we had to cut through the woods to do that. I don’t know why she didn’t just take a trail or something?! Or remember that I always (I mean, 100% of the time) know better. Sometimes I just can’t understand why she does what she does, but we finally linked up with the XC ski trail after a bit of bush whacking and knew at least we were orienting the right way!!

As we walked along the meadow Lolo still had tons of entertainment with the squirrels in the trees up the hill. It was a 7-mile snowshoe for momma but I swear Lolo must have gotten at least an extra 3 miles in with all the running around he does in the woods! The only trick with coming up on the backside of the meadow was getting to our car, and we actually had gone past it before momma realized and then took us diagonally across the meadow. That’s where she finally took off my goggles (although she did give me a break on the summit for the pictures, as you may have noticed) and Lolo and I had a great little romp in the woods just below the car up on the road before we packed up and went home.

This is an area momma said we could definitely come back to and explore, it is just on the edge of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest so it is a great area just next to South Lake Tahoe that we already frequent quite a bit. I even heard her talking about how we could possibly fat bike around the meadow if there is enough snow, which could also be quite the story for my blog here!

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